I wanted to get started on selecting crew in early May, but Angel first wanted to have an LA attorney review the contract between us. That review took a very long time. When Angel finally signed the contract, it was late June, at which point we had to enter into a hurry-up mode. We were about two months away from the start of pre-production—the week when staff would assemble to prepare for actual shooting.
I feel that the late start was a negative in two related ways. First, it limited the choices to people who had not yet committed themselves to other jobs during our production period (September 18 – October 13), which restricted our pool of talent. Second, it forced us to make decisions quickly without sufficient time for references check or thought about how people would work together.
It wasn’t until the beginning of July that we really got moving. Angel identified all of the crew positions that were required and posted a crew call online. I had set up an email account on the Pono Productions Google Drive to receive all the incoming applications and made folders for each job title and filtered every applicant. As emails came in, I placed them into a job folder along with a ranking of their qualifications. It required reading, categorizing, and responding to hundreds of emails, a process that took me several hours a day for over a month.
One of the first positions filled was to bring on Zubi Mohammed as Production Manager. He worked closely with Angel to decide whom to interview for the crew and how much to offer for each position. Once someone accepted our job offer, Angel gave me their information and I drew up a contract.
On positions like gaffer or grip, I was not qualified to weigh in, so didn’t. Other jobs—Production Designer, Cinematographer, Production Manager, and so on—were very important to me, so I took an active role.
But there were four positions that were extremely important to me and I filled based almost entirely on my own preferences: Editor, Colorist, Composer, and Sound Designer. I will discuss these later. First let me describe casting.